Now that the news of the four Mizzou Women’s Basketball transfer portal announcements are out and everyone’s had time to process, it’s time for an early roster outlook for this upcoming season. But before we do that, let’s look at how Mizzou’s roster got to where it is.
On March 23, the transfer announcements started. The first entrant into the portal was freshman forward Kiya Dorroh.
Although Dorroh may not have been seen as a crucial piece to this Tigers squad by the casual fan, people who actually watched her on the court would see the opposite. Her numbers weren’t the sparkliest of the transfers. She averaged 1.1 points and 1 rebounds per game in 27 games played. However, the most crucial element to her game didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Whenever Dorroh was on the court, the defense intensified. She hustled for loose balls at every single opportunity and clamped up shooters with ease.
A little less than an hour later came the announcement from RS-senior LaDazhia Williams. After transferring in from South Carolina before the 2019-20 season, Williams was forced to redshirt year the 2020-21 season. Due to the Covid waiver though, she now has the opportunity to transfer for one last time, which she chose to do.
I have entered my name into the portal as a graduate transfer Thank u Mizzou. pic.twitter.com/4pWYFXOZra— L boogie (@LDazhia) March 23, 2022
Williams was a critical part of the Missouri rotation this season. After starting every game her first season in the black and gold, she took on a slightly different role in 2021-22. Coach Pingeton went for a small ball lineup, which meant Williams would come off the bench. This was expected as she was recovering from knee injuries early on and couldn’t necessarily put up starter minutes in the beginning of the season. Williams became a formidable player for that Tigers at the five spot with her 6’4 frame. She had some great games this season, but her best and probably most memorable one came against South Carolina where she recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. On the season, Williams averaged 9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. In her Mizzou career, LaDazhia averaged 10.8 points and 4.15 rebounds per game.
The final March 23rd announcement came from freshman guard Izzy Higginbottom. That evening, around five hours after announcing her entrance into the portal, Izzy announced she was going back home and transferring to Arkansas State.
Higginbottom was an impact player for Mizzou from the start. She was the constant sixth/seventh player off the bench, flipping with LaDazhia. Not only could Izzy shoot with ease from beyond the arc, she also had a great sense of driving to the basket and hitting layups, some acrobatic in nature. In the beginning of the season, Higginbottom was awarded SEC Freshman of the Week honors for two outstanding performances against Saint Louis and Idaho State where she scored 17 and 18 points, respectively. Unfortunately, she was forced to miss a slew of games due to a mix of non-covid illness and Covid. In her final game in the black and gold, the loss to Drake in the WNIT, she shot 67% from the field en-route to a 14 point outing.
After days of waiting and rumors abound, the inevitable happened. Star junior guard Aijha Blackwell entered the transfer portal. This wasn’t a day that Tigers fan wanted to happen but it was a day we all knew was going to happen eventually. It was just a matter of when would she announce it; that day was March 25.
There is so much to say about Aijha. She is one of those players who is so special and has a rare talent you just don’t see in players, much less guards. It is not everyday that you see a 6’ guard climbing up the ranks of rebounds per game, defensive rebounds per game and double-double streaks. Earlier in the season, Aijha was the nation’s leader in double-doubles. Even with Aliyah Boston and South Carolina still in the NCAA tournament, she still leads the conference in rebounds per game with 13.
Blackwell’s accolades this season extend far beyond her rebounding and double-double prowess. She was named Second Team All-SEC for the second season in a row and earned several conference player of the week awards. Aijha surpassed the 1,000 career point mark and finished with 1,186 in her Tiger career. I can’t pick out a specific few games that just stick out from this season because there are too many. She gave all you could ask for and more in her final season in the black and gold. She finished her final season averaging her second straight double-double with 15.4 points, 13 rebounds and 2.6 assists. In the end, Aijha’s career stat line at Mizzou was 15.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Although the losses of these four players is sad and I’ll personally miss all four of them, there’s nothing else we can do but move on, wish them the best, and look into the future. This team is bringing back critical pieces in Hayley Frank, Mama Dembele and Lauren Hansen, but someone else officially announced she’s back for another round.
It was spoiled earlier in this week’s links, but Haley Troup officially announced on instagram that she is returning for her sixth year thanks to the Covid waiver. Haley did not participate in a Senior Night celebration like LaDazhia Williams did, and the radio broadcasters mentioned her coming back throughout the season, so it was pretty much expected that she’d be returning.
With that, let’s take a look at Mizzou’s scholarship count for the next few years.
Each Division 1 NCAA women’s basketball team is granted 15 scholarships. Special thanks to Rachel Galligan for her help in determining the specific number of scholarships. Due to Troup using her Covid waiver, she will not count against the scholarship count next season, therefore there are three available for this upcoming season.
Mizzou is bringing back six players who got significant minutes and playing time this season in Troup, Frank, Hansen, Dembele, Kelly and Smith. Coming in for Mizzou is 4-star guard Averi Kroenke and guard/forward Ashton Judd. Mizzou is going to need to look deep into the transfer portal to fill a lot of holes, primarily in scoring, rebounding and athleticism.
It will be hard to fill in the shoes the four players left behind. Each had their own valuable and unique skillsets that helped the team. Only time will tell what this roster will shape up to be.